Clunky sentences? Read that stuff out loud. Writer’s Diary: 2

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The last thing I do before moving on to the next chapter to edit, is read that thing out loud — shut the door and say it loud! — It’s a piece of advice people give you but you never do, right? I started doing it b/c the couple of times I’ve had to record a short story for radio and podcasts, I found that in the act of doing so I picked up so many clunky phrases or yucky sentences. And it’s especially helpful if you’re a fan of sentences that have rhythm and feel good and are nice to listen to. After reading my stories for said radio/podcast I actually changed a lot of words and had to resubmit the written story. If you imagine, while reading, that it is for radio and therefore u need to pronounce clearly, it really hones in on those ugly words – and you never know when, in the future, you might have to read that out loud to someone, so best fix that shit now.

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6 thoughts on “Clunky sentences? Read that stuff out loud. Writer’s Diary: 2

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  1. As an editor I always recommend that authors read their books aloud. You can’t judge the flow of reading and action without hearing the cadence. When you voice drops or you get stuck on a word, there’s something that needs to be fixed. If you get bored with your own writing as you hear it, well … that’s pretty self-explanatory. I don’t recommend that any writer attempt to do the final editing and proofreading themselves either. Even I don’t do that, and I’ve been doing this for over 20 years. If you wrote it, you’ve memorized it, even if it doesn’t seem like it. You know what it’s supposed to say so your eyes see what your mind expects them to see, not necessarily what’s really there. Optical illusions, so to speak. Sounds like you’re on the right track!

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  2. While not a novelist, I do crank out a piece of writing every week,one book review, need it or not. I started reading the material aloud as part of my editing process several years back, and have found it to be enormously helpful. There is nothing more jarring, when reading one’s own words, than finding that your sentences sound like some sort of speech challenge. Language is rhythm, as well as content, music as well as words. Your material has to sound right to work, and when you hear it, presuming you are not tone deaf, you will know what glides and what stumbles.

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  3. Yep Julie, actually the best advice ever for narrative, fiction, short stories and the like, and most of all, for poetry. Ah, the beautifully-written and beautiful-looking word – on the PAGE – but when read aloud: clang, trip, fumble! In my primary role as a poet I write the first draft by pen/pencil (preferably on the back of a scrap of paper 😉 Then as I transcribe, I read it aloud, numerous times. Always helps.

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  4. Well said! (See what I did there?) 😉

    In my limited experience, I have expanded upon this to a second level of ‘reading aloud’. I have chosen to do a preliminary “Text to Voice” play through with one of the many programs out there. Let me tell you, it can make great authors seem awkward, but it does catch the worst offenses I make with little effort. Having a second voice to listen to without bothering anyone else helps me. Usually when I read it aloud afterwards, most of the problems are gone, save for the most subtle of tones and finding what feels best on my ear.

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